Encore Boston Harbor has finally reopened its poker room for the first time since the pandemic, which you’d expect would bring about tears of joy from poker players in the area. However, limited hours and seating, along with rake that’s going to be tough to beat, has put a damper on the reopening.
As we reported in December, the previously popular card room was slated to reopen on January 31, 2022. Players arrived at the casino to play poker on Monday for the first time since March 2020.
Right off the bat, the games filled up with lengthy waitlists. That was due to a couple of reasons, one of which being that players had been eagerly awaiting the poker room to reopen for nearly two years. The other reason is the result of the room reopening with just 12 tables, 60 fewer than pre-pandemic.
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On Tuesday afternoon, eight $1/$3 no-limit hold’em games were running, plus two $2/$5 NLH games, a $5/$10 NLH, and a $2/$2 pot-limit Omaha table. Those games all had sizable wait lists and some of those players won’t get in a game because the room closes at 8 p.m.
Don’t expect the casino to add more poker tables in the near future. PokerNews reached out to the Encore in December and were told by a PR staff member: “Due to the current state of our operations, we do not have the real estate on our gaming floor to bring back poker at its pre-COVID capacity.”
Can You Beat the Rake Here?
The limited hours and seating are disappointing to a number of area poker players who voiced their displeasure on social media, but the biggest concern appears to be the reopened room’s unconventionally high cash game rake. Chase Bianchi, who reached the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table (ninth place for $1 million), made it clear his opinion on this issue.
I will not be playing 5/10 or lower at @EncoreResortBH with their absurd 10% up to $10 rake. Operation nuke poker i… https://t.co/89PTuJFoA0
— Chase Bianchi (@Chase_Bianchi)
Apparently, Encore Boston Harbor’s poker room is charging 10% rake up to $10 per hand. That includes low-limit games, which will certainly make it difficult even for a skilled player to beat the rake consistently. The card room doesn’t have any tournaments scheduled for the time being and it’s unclear when they’ll bring back tournaments.
So, why are players willing to pay the rake to play at Encore? Lack of nearby competition, mostly, it appears. Casinos such as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, two legendary card rooms in the area, are a two-hour drive away from Everett, MA, a suburb north of Boston where Encore is located.
Players in the Boston area have to decide if it’s worth it to make the drive or to stay closer to home and pay higher rake. At Foxwoods, for example, rake is up to $5 in a $1/$2 or $2/$5 game, half the rake at Encore Boston Harbor. That’s a significant difference that will eat into profits. Well, profits for the players, but certainly not the casino, unless the players stop showing up.